Wine Varietal: Zinfandel
After my dad retired, my parents suddenly bought a house and moved about 30 minutes from Savannah, Georgia, which was a big change for a couple who had spent most of their lives living in the Northeast and the Midwest! To me, this meant an opportunity to combine my visits with an exploration of a somewhat unfamiliar regional cuisine, and I liked what I found!
O.K., so technically the word “grown” does not perfectly rhyme with “brown”, but the title of this burger is a play on the classic song “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Close enough, right? The components of this sweet and slightly spicy burger were inspired by some ingredients for which Georgia is famous. Grilled juicy peaches are part of a summery succotash. Sweet Vidalia onions are battered using Sutter Home “delicately sweet” Bubbly Moscato, and the results are addictive! Pecans are coated with a spicier variation of a praline coating, chopped, and mixed into the patty itself. The burger is finished off with a buttery sweet Georgia-made Camembert from Sweet Grass Dairy. One bite, and Georgia will be “on your mind” for days to come!
For the Sweet & Spicy Praline Pecans:
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
For the Grilled Peach Succotash:
1 large ear fresh sweet corn, unhusked
3 tablespoons Colavita extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium firm ripe peaches, halved and pitted
1/2 cup quartered Nature Sweet Cherubs tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
For the burger patties:
2 1/4 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup grated Vidalia onion
3 tablespoons Tabasco Sweet and Spicy pepper sauce
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Bubbly Battered Vidalias:
4 cups canola oil
2 medium Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rings
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups Sutter Home Bubbly Moscato
Canola oil, for brushing the grill
6 ounces Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill Cheese, or a similar Camembert-style cheese, sliced
6 crusty round bakery buns (crisp but still soft in the middle!), split
3 cups arugula leaves, loosely packed
Recipe serves 6
Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium heat.
Prepare the Sweet & Spicy Praline Pecans: In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne. Melt the butter in a heavy fire-proof skillet set over the grill rack. Add the pecans and mix, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the nuts and continue to stir constantly until the sugar starts to caramelize, 4-5 minutes, being careful not to burn the pecans. Transfer the mixture to a foil-lined baking sheet and allow them to cool. Increase the grill temperature to medium-high.
Prepare the succotash: Place the ear of corn on the hot grill; turn occasionally until all sides of the husk are charred, 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper. Brush the cut sides of the peaches with the basil mixture, reserving the rest for later use. Grill the peaches, cut sides down, until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool. Remove the charred husk and silks from the ear of corn and, using a serrated knife, carefully cut the kernels from the cob and add them to the bowl with the reserved olive oil mixture. Using a sharp paring knife, peel the peaches, chop, and transfer them to the bowl. Add the tomatoes, red onion, and vinegar. Toss the mixture to blend, cover, and chill.
Prepare the burger patties: Place the ground chuck in a large bowl. Add the grated onion, Tabasco, thyme, salt, and pepper. Finely chop the cooled praline pecans and add them to the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid overworking it. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. Place the patties on a tray, cover, and chill.
Prepare the Bubbly Battered Vidalias: Pour enough canola oil in a large fireproof saucepan so that it comes to a depth of 2-inches, and set the saucepan over the grill rack. Separate the individual rings of the Vidalia onion slices and select about 20 that are medium to large in size. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Add the Bubbly Moscato to the bowl and whisk the mixture until smooth. When the temperature of the canola oil has reached 360F degrees, the rings are ready to be fried. Working in batches, submerge the rings into the batter. Remove the rings, allowing excess batter to drip off, and immediately place them in the preheated oil. Fry the rings for 2-3 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Remove the rings with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Tent the plate loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat the battering and frying process with the remaining onion rings.
Grill the patties: Brush the grill rack with canola oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, 5-7 minutes on each side for medium or until desired degree of doneness. During the last few minutes of grilling, divide the cheese among the tops of the patties and place the buns, cut-sides down, around the circumference of the grill to lightly toast.
Assemble the burgers: Divide the arugula leaves among the bottom halves of the buns, and top with a generous layer of the peach succotash (drain the succotash against the side of the bowl first to prevent a soggy burger!) Top with a burger patty, 2-3 onion rings (depending on their size), and a top bun. Serve and enjoy your delicious creation!